To investigate the impact of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) on the olfactory and gustatory functions, and the potential mechanisms affecting olfactory and gustatory functions.
Materials and methods
A total of 120 men between the ages of 41 and 70 (mean age (SD) = 56 ± 7.5) were divided into three groups according to polysomnography results: snoring group, mild to moderate OSAS group, and severe OSAS group. Olfactory and gustatory functions were evaluated by the Sniffin’ Sticks test and the triple-drop method, respectively. Otorhinolaryngologic examination, as well as sleep and quality of life questionnaires, were completed by all subjects one day before or after polysomnography.
There was a significant difference in odor thresholds (THR), odor discrimination (OD), odor identification (OI), thresholds-discrimination-identification (TDI) (p < 0.001, p < 0.001, p = 0.003, p < 0.001), and total taste score (p = 0.004, p = 0.021, p = 0.006) in all three groups. Of the subjects in the OSAS group, 43 (54%) exhibited olfactory dysfunction, including 18 subjects (45%) in the mild to moderate group and 25 subjects (63%) in the severe group. Significant negative correlations were found between all olfactory parameters and polysomnography parameters. Furthermore, a negative correlation was present between the total taste scores and the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI).
Men with OSAS exhibited impairment in olfactory and gustatory functions. Significant correlations were found between AHI and olfactory parameters, as well as between AHI and total taste scores.
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Body mass index
Percentage of time with oxygen saturation below 90%
Epworth Sleepiness Questionnaire
- LSaO2 :
The lowest oxygen saturation
Montreal Cognitive Assessment
Mean arterial oxygen desaturation
- MSaO2 :
Mean arterial oxygen saturation
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
Positive airway pressure
The MOS 36-item short-form health survey
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We thank all the patients and the staff from the Department of Otolaryngology and sleep medical center, Beijing Anzhen Hospital, China, who have participated in this study. We also thank Dr. Richard L Doty and Akshay Tangutur (University of Pennsylvania) for proofreading the manuscript.
The National Natural Science Foundation of China (81870335, 81670903) and the Capital’s Funds for Health Improvement and Research (2018-2-2065) supported this study.
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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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Liu, Y., Fang, F., Zhan, X. et al. The impact of obstructive apnea sleep syndrome on chemical function. Sleep Breath 24, 1549–1555 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-020-02022-3
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
- Olfactory dysfunction
- Gustatory dysfunction
- Cognitive dysfunctions
- Peripheral neurodegeneration